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Adventures in Babysitters

Adventures in Babysitters

Admittedly, I am as bad at finding babysitters as I am in trusting them. For the longest time I elected to have my marriage founder and my free time evaporate rather than go through the difficulty of finding a trust-worthy babysitter (not to mention the fact that I am/was being eternally cheap about paying for childcare). This lack of inherent trust may be rooted in memories of having a collection of awful, negligent babysitters when I was a child, or maybe it stems from being a bored, and semi-negligent, teenage baby sitter myself. I don’t know. But I did know that I had little interest in perpetuating the bad babysitting cycle with my own child – until I really had to.

Babysitting is probably the world’s oldest profession. Sure, most people say the world’s oldest profession is undeniably prostitution, but I would venture to guess that someone had to be watching the kids in order to facilitate that sort of extra-curricular activity. What used to be a word of mouth operation, with neighbors forcing their unemployable children upon fellow parents with even younger children, has now turned into a syndicate with websites and social networks stepping up to capitalize on the need for babysitters. Sites like Sittercity.com and Care.com (not to be confused with Care2) are making it uber-efficient and horrendously easy to find someone to hold the house together while you gobble down dinner and sit through a movie you won’t likely remember. These babysitter dating sites allow you to search personal ads that sitters create, with the majority of these sites showing the sitter’s photos, bios, rates and childcare philosophy for free. However, if you want to actually employ a babysitter you are required to pay to have the opportunity to communicate with them.

This is an amazing solution if you, like me, have had enormous difficulty finding a babysitter that is appealing, likes your children, and is trustworthy. I have found that friends, who have found their treasured babysitter, are not always willing to lend this valued commodity out when asked. The fear of losing your babysitter is about as palpable as losing a boyfriend or girlfriend – people guard with extreme prejudice.

If you are lucky enough to have one of those loyal relatives near by, willing to come at a moments notice, then this is not a problem for you. However, if you are like the rest of us, you suffer and you pay (average rates are $10 to $15 per hour, depending on number of children). How do you navigate the babysitting dilemma? Do you blindly trust whoever comes your way? Do you have a screening process? Have you ever used a service or a babysitting website?

Read more: Babies, Children, Family, Parenting at the Crossroads, , , , , ,

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Eric Steinman

Eric Steinman is a freelance writer based in Rhinebeck, NY. He regularly writes about food, music, art, architecture, and culture and is a regular contributor to Bon Appétit among other publications.

4 comments

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12:47AM PST on Mar 6, 2013

Finding dependable babysitters and pet sitters can be a nightmare. When my child was young we had a babysitting club. It's great to have good friends looking after your children. I found the same for pets. We formed a pet sitting circle and it really put our minds at rest.

2:40PM PST on Feb 8, 2011

My parents always called a babysitters-club well a local group that had willing babysitters and I cant remember complaining about them, in fact some of them send me letters and cards for many years. It's a bit luck of course but I suggest find a group.
In my eyes it's normal the babysitter gets paid as well, if you start with children you know they will cost you some money.
What Maria d. says I agree on, just ask for a reference call the family she already worked for to get an idea or just stay at home.

1:50AM PST on Feb 8, 2011

I'm a professional nanny (atention, do not confuse with occasional babysitter or irresponsible teen trying to get some cash for a new dress...). I love my job. And I'm trustworthy. Several families from different countries (mostly the Nederlands, where I live, but also American, southamerican, Sapanish, Belgian, and Japanese families) can provide you with great references. I know I've been watched by a hidden camera (they told me so after 3 months of nannying for them) I've been put to many different tests, one familly even asked me to go through a psycological test.
I know not everyone is like me, loving my job an uninterested to the family's possesions, but there are a hell lot more like me and it's very annoying to be always under your kind of prejudice. Allways tested. Hardly trusted.
I'm still in touch with many of the families I worked for, I go for dinner with one of them, I go to the child's birthday parties and we play toguether. They come to my place for coffee.

All you have to do is a bit of search, meet them and see them with your children, ask for references. Ask for a criminal record check if you wish. Not every nanny is professional and good and not every nanny is right for every family.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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